The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 14, 2006
Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut fits right into his oeuvre, sometimes even feels like the brother of one of his masterpieces, "No country for old men". It tells the story of a ranger trying to solve the murder of his illegal Mexican worker, who was on the verge of becoming a real friend, and a special journey he's taking with the perpetrator. That's beautifully filmed, but very slowly told. The fact that the vigilante and the killer hardly ever speak, and probably realistically so, makes the final act a little less believable but still a pretty decent ending. Worth seeing and a brave attempt, but certainly not an easy film to consume.
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2011
This is one of Tommy Lee Jones best films. About a Mexican hand he hires who is murdered and what he goes through to prove his killer and to gets revenge. A very long movie one reason it didn't get much airplay. a 5 star independent film.
Super Reviewer
½ December 31, 2006
Thought this was a western not sure what you class it as, quite an odd film.
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2009
Exceptional screenplay plus a great directorial debut for Tommy Lee Jones.
Super Reviewer
½ May 27, 2007
A border patrolman shoots and kills the best friend of cowboy Tommy Lee Jones and when an indifferent police department refuses to get involved over the death of a "wetback", Jones decides to dole out some old fashioned frontier justice. TLJ's directorial debut is a modern day western that examines the inherent racism in the attitude of the US towards its immigrants and the friendships that transcend it. It's a very mature and measured film, beautifully shot with some great performances but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. Not a great deal happened considering its length (it felt like Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia with all the exciting bits removed) and you have to swallow some pretty hefty coincidences to make the plot work. The underlying message is treat others as you would want to be treated yourself as you never know when you may rely on the kindness of others, but Barry Pepper was such an irredeemable ass hole it was difficult to care what happened to him, and the film just kind of petered out at the end. I also have to say I couldn't help but be reminded of Weekend At Bernies during the scenes involving the corpse! It's a well made film but I felt it lacked focus and John Sayle's Lone Star tackled similar subjects much more effectively. Good, but nothing to get overly excited about.
Super Reviewer
½ May 4, 2010
In Tommy Lee Jones directorial debut, he manages to pull of what many directors take a lifetime to achieve. A clear, well thought out and executed film. Westerns are hard to pull off in my book, but Jones does it very well. This is a good watch and I'll be looking forward to what Jones does next.
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2006
Tommy Lee Jones gives a strong and demanding performance, he also directs a total triumph. Barry Pepper gives a terrific performance. A great piece of film making. A powerful, brooding and skillfully made to date western picture. Beautiful scenery and cinematography and engaging story. This one is a direct hit in the heart. Breathtaking, gripping, compelling and tastefully bittersweet. The best, darkest, original and most astonishing western since Unforgiven. This movie is extraordinary in it's depth and scope. A rare story of redemption, revenge, friendship and loyalty. It's a moving, surprisingly funny and unforgettable experience.
Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2006
Unique, different, and interesting are thrre words that pretty much sum up this movie, especially in terms of how it relates to movies that are thematically similar, and movies from the same genre. It is a western, and it starts out as a revenge story, but it is a revisionist, modern western, and becomes less about revenge, and more about humanity and redemption. Jones is in the director's chair for the second time, and this is an interesting project for him. It's really fitting with his personality and views. This came out before No COuntry for Old Men, but I saw that one first. Seeing this one later though, lets me see shades of things that would later come up in No Country. Both are off beat character studies that take place in west Texas, both star Jones, and both take a familiar genre and put a twist on it. The acting in this film is great all aound, but I feel like someone should have given Barry Pepper some sort of special prize for all the abuse he endured in this film. At times, it makes you wonder if the way he is treated goes too far, even though his character has it coming. This is not a perfect film, as the flashbacks seem a tad it rough and shaky, but other than that, this is a great looking, powerful, compelling, and truly unique film. As an added bonus, I like that there is a slight agenda being pushed, but appreciate the fact that it is subtle and not preachy.
Super Reviewer
½ October 26, 2008
"Promise me one thing, Pete. If I die over here, carry me back to my family and bury me in my home town. I don't want to be buried on this side among all the fucking billboards. "

A powerful and provocative film about redemption, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is one of the surprise hits of 2005. This film is about the untimely death of Melquiades Estrada, a Mexican befriended by a local rancher in a small Texas border town hellbent on administering justice to a new hot-headed, racist Border Patrolmen who's poor judgment and itchy trigger finger inadvertently cost Estrada his life.

Set in the beautiful backdrop of Texas and Mexico, this powerful and spellbinding film is a great story of redemption. It also displays the unbreakable bond of friendship, even in the face of intolerance where to befriend a Mexican was frowned upon.

This film strives off the charisma of it's two leads: Tommy Lee Jones as the vigilante rancher and Barry Pepper as the ill-tempered Border Patrolman. However, Pepper really steals the show here. No disrespect to Jones, but his character was fairly one dimensional, and he plays that kind of character with ease. Pepper's transformation from a narrow-minded bigot to a broken man begging for deliverance was absolutely brilliant. Pepper proves once again that he is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. There are also some strong performances in smaller roles from January Jones as Pepper's neglected wife and Dwight Yoakem as the town sheriff.

Points taken off for some minor plot holes, including the fact that Lee inevitably would've been caught by police before reaching his long destination in Mexico.

Regardless, watch this for the riveting performance by Barry Pepper.

"I'm sorry, Melquiades! For taking your life, I'm sorry! "
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2008
An excellent film about redemption, revenge and friendship. Jones gives a powerful and understated performance and is well supported, especially by the two female leads. The direction and writing are taught with barely a wasted word or shot. Whilst there are few real surprises there is some wonderful ambiguity that gives the viewer the chance to think for themselves. Each of the characters is flawed in their own way, but through their interactions with each other they provide something the other needs - redemption, friendship, someone who believes in them, a purpose. Let's hope Jones has a few more ideas in his bag and this is the start of something good from him.

Barry Pepper also gives a very surprising performance. I love him in 'Private Ryan' and I can say the same thing here. He is Hollywood's one of the most underrated actors.
Super Reviewer
½ May 5, 2008
not to shore i actually understand it
its ok but weird reli weird
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2008
This is a slow but interesting story about the killing of an illegal immigrant by a Texas border patrol officer, and the efforts of the immigrant's friend to get the body back to his Mexican home, and at the same time make sure the killer pays for his deed. This is Tommy Lee Jones' first shot as a director, and he did a good job. The film is a bit confusing at first, in that it jumps from time period to time period, but you're not aware of that at first. Tommy Lee Jones also stars, and Barry Pepper and Dwight Yoakum do good jobs as A-hole border agents. I was a bit dissatified with the ending in that it left a plot point unanswered, but that may have been intentional to let you figure out for youself what happened.
Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2007
Good modern day western!
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2007
a film from 2005, that was really underrated, with the exception of the Cannes Film Festival, where it took the prize for Best Actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and Best Screenplay (Guillermo Arriaga); it was also nominated for the Palme d'Or (Cannes' Best Picture Award). This movie's poor luck at the box office and/or the award shows was probably due to Arriaga not working with his usual director (and former friend) Alejandro Gonzalez Iņarritu, but Lee Jones' work is just as impressive. They made one great movie, with a lot of heart and beauty, but, at the same time, violence and evil, that ended up being a wonderful mix. The actors weren't bad either: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones, Julio Cedillo and Vanessa Bauche were all reaally good, especially the actor/director Jones. A good way to show the audience that Arriaga CAN work without Gonzalez Iņarritu...
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2006
A film which helps you to realise just how amazing films still can be today. Jone's not only gives an amazing, restrained performace but his direction is solid. Despite the disjointed narartive it never once becomes confusing as Jones leaves subtle hints as to where we are. The film becomes an odd couple road movie, with a very dark sense of humour. We learn about each character and must question morality and motivation. Pepper is also stuning in this film. Expertly shot and well written there is plenty for all. One of the best films of the naughties.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2007
For all the comparisons to Peckinpah - and specifically Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia - this one actually held up. It met, and in some cases exceeded. all expectations. I want to see more from Tommy Lee Jones.
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2007
the story was good and the directing decent, but much of the content was pointless and slow. this story could have been told in half the time.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2006
Mike Norton: Hey! Hey, you!
Pete Perkins: My name is Pete.
Mike Norton: Well, Pete, the ants are eating your friend.

A very neat story, directed by Tommy Lee Jones. Jones is a rancher, whose Mexican friend is killed in a matter of circumstance by a border patrolman, Barry Pepper. Because of this, Jones kidnaps him and takes him and his friends body on a journey to Mexico in order to bury his friend and make Pepper's character pay for what he has done. Written by the writer of 21 Grams, the movie, at the begining is told in a nonlinear fashion, but eventually things start to click together about half hour into it, and it really comes together. Very good acting, neat style and a very good story.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2006
It's an age-old situation: a talented foreign body creates some superb films that frequently recieve mention in insider circles, and recieve nominations or awards at the Oscars, all the while staying well out of the Hollywood radar. Then they are picked up by Tinseltown and make shite for the rest of their career because it's more profitable. And that'd be the case here, right? Wrong.
In taking Guillermo Arragia's script, Tommy Lee Jones has crafted a masterful film that'd have you believing he'd been directing for donkey's. Arrigia's script for Three Burials is as dense, involving and beautiful as his previous work for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and also a superb pseudo-western.
Working a piece that vibrates along many genres, Three Burials is a sumptous piece about US border policy. As you'd expect from Arrigia, the structure is nonlinear, but not showy; it instead realy compliments the style of the storytelling, making this a subtle, highly unusual revenge drama about the difficulty of honouring a friend's wishes.
Jones is the star, but garners as much screen time as everyone else, playing a flawed character who sees no contradiction in himself between caring for his friend's body and sleeping with the town whores. The rest of the cast are committed too, but special not must got to Barry Pepper who (once again) steals the show without resorting to theatrics.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2006
This movie was a knock-out directorial debut by Tommy Lee Jones. The story is one of immense importance, on both an emotional level and a politcal one. It humanizes these "illegals" and the problem a face and a heart! It speaks on the power of friendship, the power of prejudice and the power of believing in a dream to become somebody or accomplish something worthwhile. Melquiades wanted to achieve something great and Pete Perkins helps him along the way. NOTE: There may be a few extended graphic elements in this movie, but don't close your eyes or think it's gross because that's the exact problem this movie addresses-- wanting to look the other way instead of facing truths.
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